Tise et al. (in press) demonstrate the power of mentors for students who are underrepresented in STEM.
Whenever I get a little too stuck in my head or my world, I try to engage in service. It can really help me reprioritize and reframe in productive ways. Mentoring is a kind of service, which is why I’ve been interested in research on the effects of mentoring. That’s why I was excited to see that Tise and colleagues (in press) used longitudinal survey data to demonstrate that, for underrepresented students in STEM, having a mentor at some point during their college career was positively related to degree attainment (undergraduate and beyond). The quality of the mentoring support was also positively predictive of degree attainment, mediated through students’ self-reported use of strategies. Now, I’m not a huge fan of self-report data, particularly for strategy use (see here for some reasons why), but when doing longitudinal research of this scope, there really isn’t another way to capture strategy use. I might call that self-report instrument a measure of “metacognitive knowledge of strategies” but there’s no need to quibble here. The take-home is that high-quality mentoring does seem to matter for students underrepresented in STEM careers, so I hope higher education institutions invest in ways to increase the number and quality of those mentors.